Birchwood Cafe excites the boring veggie burger

Birchwood Cafe's Black Bean Quinoa Burger
Birchwood Cafe's Black Bean Quinoa Burger
Teddy Hobbins

There are plenty of neighborhood gems hidden in just about every corner of our fine food city, and the Birchwood Café in the Seward neighborhood may be one of the finest. Their dedication to fresh, seasonal food and a strong commitment to local and sustainable ingredients creates serious appeal in our forward-thinking food community, but eventually that philosophy needs to add up to flavor. Thankfully, the Birchwood brings plenty to the table.

It's easy to assume that a veggie burger is going to be the most blasé item on the menu, but that doesn't have to be true. Most carnivores would pass over the Birchwood's black bean and quinoa burger, but when adorned with a Thai basil peanut pesto, a coconut jicama slaw, and a ginger cilantro aioli, one can't help but stop and order. It sounds like a real stretch to expect all of that to work together, but this arrangement delivers a totally unique and exciting twist to the often boring veggie burger scene.

The patty avoids the expected mushiness by blending hearty black beans with structure- and flavor-fortifying quinoa. We're all square in terms of composition, but there was a seasoning void that could have really completed the patty. The slaw is remarkable, with thin jicama strips providing a nice snap to pair with the coconut's unexpected but delightful sweetness. The ginger in the aioli brought a degree of tang to the affair, but managed to outperform the partnering cilantro. Yet the biggest issue was the absent basil peanut pesto. I'm not sure if it was omitted or just overpowered, but it was missed.

Sandwich Rating: Tasty. The combinations were new and exciting for carnivores and vegetarians alike, but the result was slightly out of balance. A little fragrance and some spice to level out the sweetness of the aioli and slaw would certainly do the trick.

Epic Sandwich copyright 2010 by Teddy Hobbins

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Birchwood Cafe

3311 E. 25th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55406


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